As we look toward Easter, let’s focus on Jesus. He is so much more than a good role model. He is the Son of God, our resurrected Savior. Staying connected to the Source helps us trust Him and live as He taught us.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoen to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the fine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches.If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” (John 15:1-4, 5-8, 9b NIV)
As He so often did, Jesus used a word picture to help us understand His meaning. God is the gardener, Jesus the Vine, and we are the branches.
No branch that doesn’t stay connected to the vine will produce grapes. That is also true of us if we don’t stay connected to Jesus.
Fruit that lies in wet ground will rot. Believers who focus on the successes and values of the world, who find their nourishment in gossip and slander and untruth and reports of evil, will lose their ability to bear fruit.
I in You
Vintners who care for ancient grape vines lift them up off the ground so they can receive more sun and produce better fruit.
Jesus said He prunes those branches that bear fruit so they will be even more fruitful. When has He “lifted you up off the ground” so you would produce more fruit? What crises has He allowed in your life to draw you closer to Him, to stay connected, to lean deeply into Him?
Darlene Liebling Rose, a missionary to New Guinea who became a Japanese POW and survived four brutal years in one of their camps, said at one point when she thought she could take no more, the Lord spoke to her. “Whom I love, I chasten. I want to make you like burnished gold, even if you have to go through the fire.” And she said yes.
Verse 4 talks about a mutual relationship. It is not one-sided. “If you remain in Me and I in you…” This close relationship is pictured in Song of Solomon 6:3: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
Think About It
What does it mean to stay connected to Christ?
- Apart from Jesus we can do nothing of eternal value. We may be successful in business and have a terrific family, but anything that will last forever can only come from staying connected to Him.
- Staying connected involves a choice – daily, perhaps hourly. Jesus challenged His disciples to “remain in me and I in you”, even though He was about to leave them.
- Our choices and decisions impact our continued remaining in Him. Do we consider whether our decisions will draw us closer or pull us away from Him? (Christian fellowship, Bible study, worship, and the things with which we fill our minds).
- We bear much fruit. If there is no fruit showing in our life (i.e. the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, sharing Jesus with others in a loving, approachable way, loving each other) we may ask ourselves if we are truly staying connected to Him.
- When we live in the love of Jesus, our relationship remains strong. Evidence of remaining is shown by our obedience to Him.
It’s easy for me to read political updates and wonder where our country is headed. But will I focus on that, or on the Christ who loves me and gave Himself for me, who wants fellowship with me throughout the day and night? Different results from different focuses!
What choices will you make today that will help you remain in Christ, and Him in you?
Father, thank you for being a good and wise Gardener. You’ve given me Jesus, the Vine, who gave Himself for me on a tree He created. Incredibly, He took the punishment I deserve. He tells me to stay connected to Him and He will abide in me. Help me to make choices today that will keep me remaining in Him–in what I read, where I focus, the time I spend with You, so that my life might produce the fruit of the Spirit, that I may love others as You love me.